By Nicholas Karakas
“KEEP MOVING” was the motto of the late John Lewis. Our beloved faith strangely believes in STANDING STILL, using the long repetitive and difficult eulogies from year 100 on to the St. John Chrysostom’s liturgy of the 4th century and after to guide the laity throughout the liturgy. While these troparia struck a kind, forceful and dynamic cord in the Orthodox brethren then and several centuries later, today in the 21st century with our adult children and their families fleeing the faith in numbers too sorrowful to report, it is evident that the liturgies of the first century and on are but one of many issues that are causing this exodus.
I OFTEN WONDER WHAT SIDE OF HISTORY WILL ORTHODOXY BE ON. The side of perseverance, militance and moving forward or the continuous nitpicking, false stubbornness, refusal to recognize the importance of sub-levels of the diaconate and lower orders and to revise the liturgy to recognize that we are in the 21st century.
How can we Orthodox forget the Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King and Archbishop Iacovos which began as an “organic” movement. No matter the beatings, fights and insults that the crusade endured, that multi-year trek is reminiscent of the struggles the early long-suffering Christians sustained without yielding.
Even a cursory review of history can yield enough to know how previous events tend to repeat themselves.
Our Wonderful Faith is stuck in the past and our leadership seems determined to keep it that way. So with a hierarchy so resolute on the archaic, how would it be possible for them to sermonize, evangelize or proclaim on subjects of today, like abortion, LGBT people, ways to retain our young people in the Orthodox faith, cremation and other current matters and topics we brethren are facing as we live, struggle to and care for our families during this pandemic period.
It’s has been so long since our hierarchy has performed such services in and from the present that the European style of the liturgy has become the new normal for, we American Orthodox. The old order prevails, if no new saints or saintly people deserve time in the sermons. Yes, these people, they may not have been crucified but just happen to endure the chopping off their Christian heads, families destroyed by layoffs, looted businesses, dear children dead by drug addictions and suicide. People, yes, some suffering in our very own Orthodox pews and many, many others who believe in our Christ the Lord, please tell me they are unworthy, that they can’t reach sainthood! Not to lay the blame entirely upon our bishops, our laity share a good portion of the blame. Where is their demand that our bishops do and perform more actively and outwardly in the function of their spiritual duties? But we in the pews know better but are reluctant to speak up and out.
But what is the reason for these happenings?
We faithful have been beaten up for so long by the European system of church governance that our church in America is an identical copy and captive of it. Nothing short of a tsunami will usher any changes. You attentive and knowledgeable readers, please tell me just where do you think our Orthodox faith will be in the short to medium term 5, 10, 15 or even 25 years from now and how may we foster our faith today to achieve another 50 years and longer for future generations?
Is it possible, this very moment that those courageous, weary, denounced and slaughtered followers of Christ and later, could look down upon us Orthodox Christians and give us a thumbs up on the manor we are conducting, sheathing and enhancing our Orthodox Faith today. My thought is it would engender a severe dismissive OXI!
Our Hierarchy, Clergy, Church service groups, Philoptochos, the Greek city leagues, Ahepa plus other distinguished fraternities have through more than 100 years have worked hard, struggled to be advocates and proselyte for the Orthodox Faith, only to have our own young adults and even families flee our reservation. The retort to my position is that “all religions are losing adherents”. My answer, yes, I am concerned about the loss of Christians, over all this is very hurtful and damaging to our society. However, my main and only consideration is Greek Orthodoxy.
The solution to what I have written dear fellow Orthodox is somewhere in this message and your minds. Far be it to my offering it. We are Americans. Where is the American Greek Orthodox Church when we need it?
I suppose you may feel that I am some kind of a nut as to write these editorial messages at my cost. So far, my family allows me to be at home, without handcuffs, shackles or tight apparel.
To further alleviate your grave concerns, I am submitting the photo taken on the day I received the Honorary PhD degree from the university of Missouri St. Louis with my beloved now departed wife Sophia and Chancellor Thomas George.
I urge you dear Readers to feel free to email with your comments and insults as I welcome them all and encourage an open and honest discussion and debate about our Orthodox future.